A lot of things only appear during Advent here in Vienna. Christmas biscuits, for example. Or barrels of spiced wine and punch. Or the occasional burst of undiluted optimism to shine a light on the grumbling Viennese soul. Oh, and the Ströck Christmas tram, of course.
- Old timer tram
- Traditionally circles Vienna’s centre at weekends during Advent (in normal years)
- All proceeds from ticket sales go to charity
- Seasonal decorations, music, and snacks round out the experience
- See also: The pink Manner tram
The old timer tram
If you spot an elderly tram decked out in stars and evergreen boughs during Advent, then it’s probably the Ströck Weihnachtsbim (Christmas tram). It traditionally appears at weekends to offer a fun seasonal ride and, more importantly, raise money for charity.
(Photo courtesy of Wiener Linien and © Johannes Zinner)
Wiener Linien (the municipal transport authority) and Ströck (a large bakery chain) operate the vehicle.
Ströck’s sponsorship means you can expect suitable baked delights on board. Their outlets do excellent croissants, many of which have met their final moments on my breakfast table.
Christmas music accompanies you on your journey, and the route takes you past the many historical sights that line the ring road around the old town.
The initiative has raised over €100,000 through the years. The charitable cause last time around (back in Christmas 2019) was the Österreichische Gesellschaft für Chronisches Erschöpfungssyndrom, who do excellent support and education work in the field of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) / Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME).
The tram itself is a genuine old timer. Built in 1929, it only left service in 1978.
Should a trip give you a taste for trams of the past, then you might visit the Remise museum, which has a large hangar filled to the brim with old municipal transport vehicles.
In those years when it runs, the service traditionally operates on Saturdays and Sundays through the Advent period, leaving from Karlsplatz station at intervals across the afternoon and calling at Schwedenplatz, Schottentor, and Rathausplatz.
A full journey around the ring takes about 45 minutes and you normally buy your tickets on board. They cost €6 each last time out, though under 12s went free if accompanying an adult. Remember, all the money from ticket sales goes to charity.
Although any ride is bound to be fun, take the later trams to see the Christmas lights in their full glory. The big hotels and Christmas markets that line the route look particularly good once the sun begins to disappear.
How to get to the old timer tram
Karlsplatz is a big station, so look for the Old Timer stop near the Otto Wagner Pavilion. That’s where the pink Manner tram (another traditional Advent and Easter opportunity) also departs. All the stops around the route are well connected to the normal public transport network.
Karlsplatz is on the U1, U2 and U4 subway lines, Schwedenplatz on the U1 and U4, and Schottentor on the U2. The Rathausplatz stop is close to Schottentor or the Rathaus subway station (also U2).
If you prefer trams, then the 1, 2, D, 62, and 71 lines all go to the Karlsplatz or Oper/Karlsplatz stops. The 1, D and 71 serve both Schottentor and Rathausplatz, while the 1 and 2 lines stop at Schwedenplatz.
And if you’re looking for even more seasonal joy after the ride, two of the stops have major Christmas markets attached. Karlsplatz can rightly claim to be the most artistic of all the city’s seasonal markets. And the Christkindlmarkt at the Rathausplatz is Vienna’s biggest and most famous.